Now that Minneapolis has been awarded Super Bowl LII (52) in 2018, will the Minnesota Vikings be good enough to compete for a Super Bowl by then? Unfortunately for most Vikings fans, Adrian Peterson would be 31, and coming off a knee injury at the end of 2012 and having groin surgery this off-season, he most likely won’t be the player he has been for the past 7 years. But there are a few hopefuls on the roster and young talent still on the team that may make them able to compete for a division title and maybe even a conference title by 2018.
Rick Spielman has been doing a great job of drafting for the Vikings in the last few years by adding talent and playmakers to the roster. He has done a superb job by taking advantage of players falling in the first round as well as trading back into the first round to get players they covet. He has had ten draft picks in the first and second round in the last four drafts and has done very well adding talent and finding players to instantly upgrade the team. His first draft, as every Vikings fan knows, he missed on Christian Ponder with his first ever first round pick, but he was able to draft Kyle Rudolph in the second round and he is developing into one of the best young all around tight ends in the league.
In the 2012 draft he was able to add two players that made an instant impact on offense and defense. Matt Kalil was the fourth overall pick in the draft and has solidified the left side of the offensive line and Harrison Smith, who Spielman traded back into the first round to get, made an instant impact at safety and had a pro bowl caliber season his rookie year.
2013 was no different for Rick, after trading often injured Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for their first round pick. He was able to acquire yet another first round pick from the New England Patriots by trading them Minnesota’s second, third, fourth, and seventh round picks. With those picks he drafted Sharrif Floyd, the top rated defensive tackle prospect who had fallen a bit in the draft, Xavier Rhodes, cornerback out of Florida St, and Cordarrelle Patterson, an electric wide receiver out of Tennessee. All of whom will be starting in 2014. They all still need to develop their games a little more but they have tremendous upside.
2014 was no exception to the rest of Spielman's drafts. He drafted Anthony Barr, a freakishly athletic linebacker that will make an instant impact on defense. Then, once again, Spielman worked his magic and traded back into the first round to snare Teddy Bridgewater out of Louisville. Bridgewater received a lot of criticism after having a terrible pro day, but he has a quick release and a strong enough arm to make all the throws on the field. He may be a little inaccurate on his deep ball but there are a lot of QB’s in the NFL that can’t throw the deep ball. Plus, not many offense’s are built around passing the ball 70 yards down the field. With Norv Turner showing him the ropes, he could develop into the quarterback that the Minnesota Vikings have been looking for since Brett Favre played for them. Spielman may have found 3 eventual starters out of the 2014 draft. Barr, Bridgewater, and offensive guard David Yankey. He also found 3 other contributors in Scott Crichton, Jerrick McKinnon, and Antone Exum.
With the last few draft classes, not only have they done well in the beginning of the draft they have been able to find a few players in the later rounds to help out. Though there haven’t been many because Mr. Spielman keeps trading them away to move back into the first round. He found Blair Walsh, pro bowl kicker in the sixth round in 2012. Audie Cole, Josh Robinson, and Mistral Raymond, are contributors and could still develop into players that will add good depth that teams need to make a deep playoff run. Spielman, has been active in free agency as well. He signed Linval Joeseph, a young defensive tackle from the New York Giants to solidify the defensive line after the departure of Kevin Williams. Captain Munnerlyn was another signing to start opposite of Xavier Rhodes at corner. He also resigned their own Everson Griffen at defensive end, you can never have enough edge rushers and Griffen will hopefully develop into the outside presence that they need. By bringing back Jasper Brinkley, he signed a guy to basically be a stop gap at middle linebacker until they develop some one on the roster or draft a middle linebacker worthy of being able to step in and play right away.
With all the young talent developing into stars on the Vikings roster, barring injury and if they play up to their potential, there is no telling how good the Minnesota Vikings will be by the time the Super Bowl reaches Minneapolis. Yes, the Vikings still need to add a middle linebacker and a safety to their defense and will probably need to add another threat on the outside at wide receiver. But with three more drafts to be able to address those issues they could develop into a team that is able to compete for a title by then. The key to this team’s future success will definitely fall on Teddy Bridgewater’s shoulders, if he is able to develop into the quarterback that the Vikings need, with the young talent on their roster, Bridgewater and the Vikings should be able to compete for a Super Bowl by 2018.